After the Fall

East German missions 18 years beyond the Wall


If we had a dollar for every time someone said, “Germany? Why would you be a missionary to Germany?” we would probably be able to finance some pretty cool ministries in our church.

The typical American Christian has a hard time under-standing why Germany needs missionaries. The country has no outstanding humanitarian needs; in fact, Germany has a better social-care system than the United States. And as far as religion, well, we’re talking about the land where the Reformation began. Protestantism was birthed here—why send people back?

Complex Personality

Germany’s history is long and complicated. It includes not only the Reformation but also times of utter spiritual darkness. This is the country responsible for the onset of two world wars, including one of the most notorious genocides in history. Later, in the eastern part of the country, the communist German Democratic Republic (GDR), Christians were discriminated against when they expressed their faith.

November 9, 1989, will long be celebrated as the day the Berlin Wall fell. Most of the world watched in amazement as the improbable became reality. Even the East German government was stunned by the progression of events that led up to the dismantling of this poignant symbol of the Cold War.

Obviously, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and subsequently the end of communism in East Germany, brought about enormous changes in the daily life of the citizens. What didn’t change is that the majority of Germans in the former GDR deny the existence of God. Many adults were raised under the teachings of communist leaders. For example, Karl Marx, called the “Father of Communism,” claimed that religion is the “opium of the people.” This comment originated from his belief that religion is merely used by oppressors to make people feel better about the distress of being poor and exploited.

Many Germans who grew up in the western part of the country also deny God’s existence. In their minds, if there is a God, how could He allow the horrible events in this country’s history? As these thoughts from the eastern and western parts of the country intermingle, they set the stage for the spiritual climate of Germany today.

Language of Love

The number of believers in Berlin is very low, but as one travels north and east toward the Baltic Sea the number drops drastically. The region known as Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (part of the former GDR) has little exposure to the gospel. In fact, less than 1 percent of those living in this area attend church.

For the last few years our team has sought to build relationships in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern by hosting English camps for teens. Many who come are not believers. Those who do believe often are the only ones in their family or their class who follow Jesus. They long for encouragement and fellowship.

We recently received an e-mail from a girl who attended camp last year. She came back this summer and brought a friend, Lisa*, with whom she has been sharing her faith. Lisa’s entire family is atheistic, and her stepfather is opposed to anything that has to do with the Church or with Christianity. Once, when offered a Bible, Lisa felt she had to decline. She said that her bedroom was very small, and there was no place to hide it from her stepfather. Despite all of this, she is still very interested.

This story is not uncommon. The roots of atheism run deep in this culture. We are well aware that it is a tool our enemy uses to blind the eyes of the German people. We pray daily that God would open their eyes to the truth. Pray with us as we continue to search for creative ways to present the truth of the gospel.

*Name changed

GERMANY — In Brief

As Europe’s largest economy and second most populous nation, Germany is a key member of the continent’s economic, politicaland defense organizations. European power struggles immersed Germany in two devastating world wars in the first half of the 20th century and left the country occupied by the victorious Allied powers of the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union in 1945.

With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949: the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the eastern German Democratic Republic (GDR), under the control of the Soviet Union. Following the post-war division of Berlin, the Wall (Die Mauer) was constructed in 1961; it remained a barrier between East (GDR) and West (FRG) Berlin until 1989.The decline of the Soviet Union allowed for German unification in 1990.

Since then, Germany has expended considerable funds to bring Eastern productivity and wages up to Western standards. In 1999, Germany and 10 other EU countries introduced a common exchange currency, the euro.

—compiled from www.cia.gov/library and www.worldinfozone.com

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